Nigerian Researcher, UiTM, Malaysia.
The establishment of a security outfit codenamed as ‘Amotekun’ (‘leopard’ in English) is the response of the South-western part of Nigeria to the arising issue of insecurity caused by the unceasing brutal attacks launched by herdsmen on the inhabitants of the region. This outfit, which was established by the governors of the six states in the region, namely Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, and Oyo, was publicly announced on 9th January, 2020 upon a regional security summit which took place in Ibadan in the last June via the Development Agenda for West Nigeria Commission (DAWN).
In an attempt to ensure its strength and facilitate its mobility, the six governors in the region donated 20 vehicles each, while the Oyo state governor donated 33 vehicles, all of which amount to 133 vehicles. Furthermore, each of the states contributed 100 units of motorcycle, making the total amount of the procured motorcycles to be 600 units. The Amotekun outfit is made up of members who were drawn from Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Agbekoya, Nigeria Security, and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), local hunters and vigilante group.
Following the desertification in the North and the drying up of the Lake Chad, the people of South-West have been besieged by armed Fulani herdsmen who allegedly connived with the Nigerian Police. In its report titled ‘Herdsmen Laying Siege on South-West States, Planning Collusion with Nigerian Police’, Sahara reporters revealed that there have been several cases of kidnapping, a few survivors of which delineated that their kidnappers were a group of herdsmen who communicate with each other in Fulfude and Hausa languages. This insecurity situation in the region is panicking as several of these attacks have led to a colossal destruction of lives and vandalization of properties by a host of Fulanis who turned out to be criminals under the disguise of cattle rearing.
Indeed, the endeavor of the South-West governors in collaboration with Yoruba leaders to restore security and stability to the region through their launching of the earlier mentioned regional security outfit is a worthwhile humanitarian contribution to salvaging the situation.
This decision has been the anticipation of an average south western Nigerian since the Federal government with whom the exclusive power on defense and security is vested has failed to safeguard all the parts of the country by any means deemed necessary. The police force in particular allegedly appears to have heeded this situation of insecurity, causing the terrorizing herdsmen to intensify their atrocities against the residents.
In addition to a massive killing, kidnapping for ransom, banditry, destruction of farms, women molestation has been the case with a considerable number of victims, causing a host of the endangered inhabitants to be extremely perturbed in regard to their unknown near future security fate.
Presidential approval of Amotekun: things to consider
On the Thursday, 30th January, 2020, the South-West states’ governors held a meeting with the presidency over the request for an official endorsement of their collectively set up regional security outfit, but with a conclusion which calls for the need to enact a legal framework in the states’ legislatures and sanctioned by the attorney generals as a requirement for the presidential approval. With this outcome, there is an aorta of doubt regarding the immediate function of this security outfit given the time-consuming tendency of the law enactment process involved.
Moreover, one might be agitated about how difficult and challenging it would be to fulfill such a requirement to obtain this approval as there is lack of concurrent power vested with the state governments to regulate security and defense matters on their own, and this might necessitate a prompt action to amend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to accommodate such a power for the states.
Since the procedure for obtaining the approval may be somewhat delayed at the detriment of the regional security, the Amotekun outfit can be maintained as a joint community security force to assist the Nigeria police in countering terrorism in general and the atrocities of Fulani herdsmen in particular as no explicit objection to that can be found in the constitution. Just as the Joint Civilian Task Force (JTF) which has over the years fought Boko Haram in the North-East, and the Hisbah which strives to eradicate all sorts of immoralities in the North-West, the South-West Amotekun outfit is of no difference as it is aimed at assisting the police force in waging war against terrorism and Fulani herdsmen attacks as well as restoring peace to the region.
More importantly, the need for such a radical constitutional amendment in such a way as to empower each state to absolutely take security measures to safeguard their citizens from any militia attacks cannot be undermined as this would eradicate any tendency of terrorist acts and onslaughts in not only every nook and cranny of the South-West, but also the entire parts of the country.
Eghagha O. (2020). Amotekun and the future of our republic, published by The Guardian on 3rd, April: https://guardian.ng/opinion/amotekun-and-the-future-of-our-republic.
Sahara Reporters (2019). Herdsmen Laying Siege On South-West States, Planning Collusion With Nigerian Police—YCE, published on 2nd June: http://saharareporters.com/2019/06/02/herdsmen-laying-siege-south-west-states-planning-collusion-nigerian-police%E2%80%94yce.